The government has today (21st Jan) been urged to "wake up" to the continuing difficulties faced by its Green Deal energy efficiency scheme, after new official figures showed just 1,612 households had Green Deal Plans in progress as of the end of December.
The latest monthly statistical update confirms the number of Green Deal assessments has continued to rise, climbing from 117,454 to 129,388 during December. The increase in assessments was 21 per cent lower than that achieved in November, but officials said the slowdown was likely to be a result of the Christmas holiday period.
Ministers have consistently argued that the increase in the number of households undertaking Green Deal assessments suggests the scheme is gaining momentum and is delivering energy efficiency improvements, even if households opt to fund work themselves rather than sign up to Green Deal financing plans.
There was further evidence that many of the households undertaking assessments are completing some form of upgrade work, after the latest figures showed the number of cashback vouchers provided to households carrying out improvements reached 10,563 by the end of December.
However, critics seized on the latest figures as further evidence that the government is struggling to deliver on the original plan to use the Green Deal's financing scheme to drive mass adoption of energy efficiency improvements.
Ministers had signalled that they wanted to see about 10,000 Green Deals completed in the scheme's first year, but the latest figures show that a year on from its launch, just 1,612 households had Green Deal Plans in progress and only 626 were "live" with all measures installed. They also reveal that there was only a modest increase in the number of households engaged with the scheme during December, with the number of plans in progress rising from 1,478 to 1,612 over the course of the month.
In addition, the figures confirmed the number of subsidised energy efficiency upgrades completed under the Energy Company Obligation scheme rose during November, but remain well below the historic highs achieved by the insulation industry in previous years.
According to the Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC), the number of ECO measures installed rose 14 per cent during November to 82,131, taking the total number of upgrades completed under the scheme to 461,726.
However, figures for last month are currently unavailable, meaning it is unclear at this stage whether industry fears that the controversial changes to the ECO scheme announced by the government in early December led to a hiatus in the market.
Paul King, chief executive of the UK Green Building Council (UK GBC), said the latest figures "should come as a wake-up call to government that the Green Deal is not delivering in its current form".
"Government must recognise energy efficiency as a national infrastructure priority and be prepared to delve into its purse to make its flagship policy more appealing through stronger incentives and more attractive finance options," he said.
The UK GBC today(21st Jan) reiterated its calls for the government to support the scheme with more attractive incentives and lower rates of interest that would reduce the repayments households have to make under the scheme, making it easier for them to cover the cost of energy efficiency improvements through savings on their bills.
Climate Change Minister Greg Barker argued that the scheme was making good progress and had helped thousands of homes cut their energy bills and reduce their carbon emissions.
"129,842 Green Deal assessments have now taken place with 81 per cent of people consistently telling us that they are taking action following their assessment," he said in a statement. "Thanks to the Green Deal and ECO, over 400,000 households have already been helped to keep warm this winter, demonstrating the potential to transform Britain's housing stock." For more inforamtion visit: